Law School, community mourns esteemed professor

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Nov 30, 2011

Professor Jon Van Dyke prepares for a class at the William S. Richardson School of Law.
Professor Jon Van Dyke prepares for a class at the William S. Richardson School of Law.
Jon M. Van Dyke
Jon M. Van Dyke
Jon M. Van Dyke, a professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa who was an internationally recognized jurist in the areas of constitutional law, international law, international environmental and ocean law, and international human rights law, died Tuesday night while in Australia to speak at a Law of the Sea conference. 
Professor Van Dyke, who joined the Law School faculty in 1976, taught a generation of law students constitutional law and international law over the past 35 years. He was known as an educator well beyond the classroom, and constantly traveled the world as a renowned international expert committed to teaching people at all levels.
He gave talks and keynote addresses, and regularly participated on panels across an astonishing range of topics. He was also well-known as an extraordinarily able lawyer who handled many well-known cases, perhaps most notably on behalf of Native Hawaiians and international human rights claimants.
Professor Van Dyke was the Law School’s inaugural Carlsmith Ball Faculty Scholar and a recipient of the University of Hawaii Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research, the highest research award in the UH System. He also won numerous teaching awards at both the Law School and UH levels. His most recent major book, Who Owns the Ceded Lands? (2008), garnered considerable attention from a general audience as well as specialists.
Members of the Law School community are invited to gather at the Moot Courtroom throughout today to share memories, mourn, and comfort one another.
Said Dean Avi Soifer, “Jon was admired, loved, and vitally important throughout a remarkable number of different circles of people stretching far beyond our Law School, but we were particularly and truly blessed to have the direct benefit of his many years of inspirational teaching and scholarship, remarkable public service, and deep and abiding friendship.”
Professor Van Dyke was 68. He is survived by wife, attorney Sherry Broder. They have three children: Eric, Michelle, and Jesse Broder Van Dyke, who serves as a spokesman for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka. 
For the law school’s tribute to Van Dyke, see the home page at His biography, publications and awards may be viewed at
Memorial service information is pending.